Jeff Bezos Returns To Manage Day-To-Day Operations At Amazon During Pandemic

Jeff Bezos has taken back his role of controlling Amazon’s day-to-day operations as it continues to run throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

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Jeff Bezos, 56, has taken back his role as the CEO of Amazon, which includes controlling the day-to-day operations of the company as it continues to run throughout the coronavirus pandemic. As one could imagine, orders for Amazon have reached some record highs during this quarantine, and as those order numbers are increasing, so is the amount of warehouse staff walkouts/strikes against the trillion-dollar company and it’s billionaire CEO. 

Bezos is apparently holding daily calls on general operations like inventory and product testing, while also collaborating with government officials over their response to the pandemic and its economic impact. He’s also been making in-person public visits to staff that are working on the front-lines in the warehouses, something Bezos himself hasn’t done in years. 

Online shopping was already the future of retail, and now, since all non-essential businesses are closed indefinitely, share prices for Amazon, and platforms like it, have skyrocketed exponentially within the past month. However, because of the overwhelming amount of online traffic that’s been occuring during this pandemic, Amazon has temporarily banned low-priority items from being shipped to its warehouses. This is meant to prioritize orders of essential goods, like toilet paper or masks, while also decreasing the amount of outside products coming in and out of all Amazon facilities. 

Bezos has apparently been working to launch an Amazon lab in order to ramp up testing for his workers, and American citizens alike. However, his staff overall agrees that their CEO hasn’t done nearly enough, as hundreds of Amazon workers have planned mass “call outs” for this week, as a means of protesting the way “Bezos has placed warehouse staff at increased risk and exposure to coronavirus,” according to the workers. This protest is also a response to how “hands off” Bezos has been in general with his company while he continues to profit off of the warehouse workers labor.

I have returned to a more active role in the daily operations. For now, my own time and thinking continues to be focused on Covid-19 and how Amazon can help while we’re in the middle of it.”

Typically, according to two sources directly from Amazon, Bezos would normally leave the daily operations for his executive deputies to complete while he focused on more “fun, futuristic, and riskier” projects; for example, Amazon’s AI assistant, Alexa. When this entire pandemic began in March, Bezos began holding more online board meetings covering the Covid-19 virus and how it was impacting business. 

Bezos was also the voice of reason that apparently came up with the idea to halt the shipping of all non-essential items to its warehouse, but Amazon has since begun shipping non-essential items again. Amazon’s share price peaked at $2,408.19, earning Bezos an extra $25 billion since the beginning of March. This alone has placed both Bezos and Amazon in the middle of a huge controversy regarding this pandemic and big businesses. 

Amazon has always experienced a large amount of unrest from its workers. In terms of the past two months, a series of protests has been taking place in US warehouses all across the country, as Amazon employees are complaining that the company isn’t doing anything to protect staff from the virus. These protests are also a response to the fact that more than half of the Amazon warehouses in the US have reported positive cases for Covid-19, one warehouse employee was even killed by the virus. 

Amazon employee’s are demanding that the company provide “paid sick leave, guaranteed healthcare for all Amazon associates, regular deep cleaning and sanitation, to eliminate rate-based quotas that make hand-washing and sanitizing impossible and to pledge not to retaliate against workers who speak out about conditions.”

Amazon’s response to these accusations and demands from their warehouse employees stated that their staff was simply overreacting to these “poor conditions.”

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“We have taken extreme measures to keep people safe, tripling down on deep cleaning, procuring safety supplies that are available, and changing processes to ensure those in our buildings are keeping safe distances,”  said Amazon spokesperson Rachael Lighty.

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Amazon claims that the reality is a vast majority of employees continue to show up and complete their shifts everyday, which thus leads to the further spread of the virus. Even if that is the case, what does it say about a company whose employees feel the need to risk their lives everyday for little to no money because it’s the closest thing to a “liveable wage” that they have? Amazon’s employees have been making the same argument for the past two months. 

More than 300 Amazon warehouse workers across 50 facilities in the US have “called out sick” for this whole week as a means of protesting the unsafe conditions, low wages, and lack of healthcare protections. This is the first nationwide walkout that Amazon warehouse workers have universally participated in. 

Many corporate employees from Amazon expressed their support of the warehouse workers as well by also calling out sick for the week. Amazon has reportedly been trying to shut down the entire “sick call out” protest, however, after a report on the warehouse working conditions for Amazon revealed that “nearly 75 out of 110 US warehouse facilities” had at least one employee who tested positive for Covid-19, there was no stopping the protest.

The protesting groups have also claimed that Amazon’s inadequate safety procedures have disproportionately burdened people of color working for the company more than their white counterparts. 58% of warehouse workers are individuals of color, and after Amazon controversially fired Chris Smalls, the African American Staten Island warehouse worker who organized a walkout protest last month, and the company continued to defame Smalls name long after he’d been fired, remaining warehouse workers haven’t let the company rest in terms of protesting. 

For now, Bezos and other corporate heads from Amazon claim that they’re main focus is on protecting their employees from this virus, while also using their resources to help the American people. Whether Jeff Bezos will utilize any of that $25 billion he made just last month, is unclear.